Wayne Law School names associate dean of Diversity, Equity & Belonging

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Wayne State University Law School last week announced its inaugural associate dean of Diversity, Equity & Belonging, associate professor of law Nancy Chi Cantalupo, to lead and ensure the achievement of an inclusive and equitable law school community. In 2020, Wayne State University joined institutions around the world in responding to the clarion call for real change to combat systemic racism. Consistent with Wayne State’s history of meaningful engagement with society and its mission of “positively impacting local and global communities,” University leadership took action to reduce and eliminate implicit and explicit biases and improve diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) across the university through the establishment of a Social Justice Action Committee (SJAC). Wayne State University Law School is following this lead.

“Dean Cantalupo’s experience, talent, and commitment in this role will amplify and elevate the work of every member of Wayne Law as we strive to make our school, our community, and our profession diverse and equitable spaces in which everyone truly belongs,” said Richard Bierschbach, Dean of the Law School.

Dean Cantalupo has more than a decade of experience writing and teaching about civil rights, Title IX, and preventing discriminatory violence such as sexual harassment and gender-based violence. Her scholarship in these areas seeks to give schools and those seeking to enforce civil rights protections concrete strategies to reach such goals, and several specific proposals she has made have influenced federal law in a pro-civil rights direction. Most recently, a 2011 recommendation in Dean Cantalupo’s second law review article helped Senator Gillibrand and Representative Speier pass into law a nationally-standardized and mandatorily-disclosed “climate survey” to be conducted periodically at campuses across the country.

Additionally, Dean Cantalupo’s diversity, equity, and inclusion-oriented pro bono work is extensive. In 2014, she served as a Negotiator on behalf of victims’ rights groups in a Department of Education Negotiated Rulemaking, spoke on a U.S. Senate roundtable with Senators Blumenthal, Gillibrand and McCaskill, and was invited to provide comments and advice to President Barack Obama’s White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault. From 2017-19, she wrote several drafts of the ABA Commission on Domestic and Sexual Violence’s Recommendations for Improving Campus Student Conduct Processes for Gender-Based Violence. As a law faculty member, she has co-chaired the planning committee for the LatCrit Junior Faculty Development Workshop, served on the Board of Directors for the Conference of Asian Pacific American Law Faculty and, most recently, wrote the problem for the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association’s 2022 Thomas Tang Moot Court Competition.

Prior to her work as a teacher and a scholar, Dean Cantalupo also served for nearly 15 years in various university administrator positions, during which she built a long record of advancing values of diversity, equity, and belonging. Beginning with her first job out of college, as Georgetown University’s founding Women’s Center Director, she served in such roles on multiple campuses and for a national association of thousands of professionals from thousands of higher education institutions.

In discussing her new role, Dean Cantalupo emphasized her hopes for the future: “I have spent my entire professional career working not only to promote diversity and belonging, but also, recognizing that neither diversity nor inclusion are power-neutral, advancing civil rights and equality in education. However, that work has almost always been bifurcated — either focusing on research or on the implementation of DEI programs and initiatives. This new opportunity brings both study and action together to advance Wayne Law’s diversity, equity, and belonging work. I am excited to see what those combined powers can accomplish. I also think this combination fits well into Wayne State’s quite unique place in the academy: simultaneously serving as an access institution and a major research university.”



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